PHIL KAPLAN'S FITNESS TRUTH - Phosphatidylserine


One of the nutrients gaining a reputation as "miraculous" is Phosphatidylserine, commonly referred to as PS. Once the marketing machine starts rolling, the hype tends to roll right over the actual value of a product, and compounds that "might" have been revealed to have some value are sold as the latest greatest cure-all.

I've devoted a good portion of my career to battling the misinformation, and rarely do I relay a supplement as having any curative value beyond that which is supplied from sensible meals. I've recently seen PS advertised as a great muscle builder, as a great "smart pill," as a rejuvenator, and as a cure for learning disabilities. I feel as if we're on the threshold of marketing run amok, so allow me to share some of the realities.

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid. A "lipid" is a fat, but unlike triglycerides (three fatty acids attached), phospholipids have two fatty acids and a sort of a "head" which contains phosphorus. Biochemistry aside, the reason these unique lipids are so valuable is because their fatty acid chains are attracted to fats, and their "heads" are attracted to water. Every cell in your body is surrounded by a membrane and that membrane must allow water to pass through, yet protect the unique environment of the water filled cell by acting as a barrier of sorts. The phosphatidylserine molecule, when it comes in contact with water, forms a "bilateral structure" which becomes a layer of the actual cell wall.

Phophatidylserine (PS) is present in every human cell, but is most abundant in brain cells. The membrane is the surface of the cell, and that's where, in the brain, PS interacts with proteins that conduct the transport of nerve signals. It is highly involved in neurotransmitter production and release as well as the activity of the chemical receptor sites.

Neurological performance tests strongly indicate that PS benefits brain physiology.

The exploration of PS is nothing new (the research history goes back three decades), but the continued research lends greater credence to its virtue as a supplement. There are two primary areas of study in which PS has shown impressive value:

1. The reduction of exercise induced cortisol production

2. Increased cognition or a decrease of cognitive deterioration

Scientists have conducted tests ranging from EEG measurement of brain activity to simple name-face recognition, or memorization of a list of non-related words in order to verify that cognition begins a decline in humans after the age of 40. Of all of the compounds studied, PS is the single substance best validated to help offset, reduce, or even reverse cognitive decline.

I've found 49 research abstracts that show promise, most of them clearly showing that PS benefits memory, concentration, and alertness. Is it safe? To date more than 1,000 subjects received PS under controlled clinical conditions there is absolutey no report of "side effects" beyond stomach upset or sleeplessness with high dosages.

There has been some controversy over which is a better source of PS . . . the cow or the soybean (unlikely rivals). I'll explain from whence this controversy emerged. When PS was first isolated for research, it was extracted from bovine (cow) brain tissue. The early research used bovine-sourced PS, and the research, as noted, was impressive. Scientists have since learned to isolate PS in a valuable form from soy, and with the fear of Mad Cow Disease making the news on a daily basis, cow based supplements are far less desirable. Those who earn their livelihoods selling bovine PS are quick to point out that the early research used ONLY bovine PS, and that soy-based PS might not be as valuable. In 1995 a very credible clinical research study, The Effect of Plant Phosphatidylserine on Age-Associated Memory Impairment and Mood in the Functioning Elderly conducted at the Geriatric Institute for Education and Research, and Department of Geriatrics, Kaplan Hospital in Israel, showed results to be just as significant with soy based PS than with bovine. This result has been replicated in continued research over the years between 1995 and 2003. The great majority of PS sold commercially today is soy-based.

Blocking Cortisol

PS also seems to limit hypothalmic activity to suppress the production of "the stress hormone," cortisol, which may lead to applications in anti-aging study from not only a cognitive standpoint, in the physical realm as well. It may prove to be an aid in muscle preservation.

This is not a drug, and I don't know whether it should be considered miraculous, but in cases of reduced cognition, it certainly shows promise.

Related Pages:

[ Cortisol ]
[ Cortislim ]

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